Monday, September 20, 2010


This is a bee story; it goes like this...ahem. On a beautiful, sunny July morning, I made my way to the old barn in the backyard. Oh, by the way, I love my barn. It's old now---like me---and is imploding in on itself(like me, too), boards are discoloured and rotten around the base and in certain areas of the backside wall. It stinks also(unlike me), but it has a nice country stink which is pleasing to the discerning nose. I like my old barn a lot. My wife says that the old barn has to go, and will be replaced in the Spring. I guess she's right: the old barn ain't what it once was...then neither are we all, I guess.
Anyway, I opened the creaky door to the old barn---it protests every morning when it has to behave like a barn. Sad. The night before I threw in a rather large quantity of rope---really good rope--- which is now right in front of the opened door. Oh, by the way, I actually found that rope on the beach a few months ago while out one early morning for a stroll in the sand. I think it came from the fishing boats. They lose a lot of paraphernalia while endeavouring to catch a fish. This is very good quality rope of high value and cost, I'm sure. I carried it the whole length of the beach to my car, and shoved it in the trunk. Now it's in the barn next to the other 5pieces of rope I found the past years. Anybody want some rope? My wife asks me why I need so much rope? I tell her that you never know when you will need enough rope to hang yourself or rope a cow. It's a good answer because "need" is ambiguous. I will be going to the beach this week; maybe I'll find some more rope, hope so.
Anyway...where was I?... oh, yes. This rope which I actually needed just yesterday was in a heap on the floor in front of the now opened door of the old barn.---you with me? I leaned down to pick it up and wind it in a circle....oh, by the way, not many people know how to do this: wind rope in a circle, I've found. I learned how to do this from my mom who would always ask me to wind the clothes line up when she finished drying them---the clothes, I mean.
Ah, I leaned down to pick up the rope when I heard a buzzing sound. It was a frantic buzzing sound; a buzzing sound of distress, of panic. I looked over to the corner of the front door where I believed this angst-ridden sound was emanating and I saw a bee, a big bee, who seemed to be caught in a webby, dirty, entanglement and was trying really hard to get free. I put my hand down and with a couple of sweeps cleared all that nasty stuff away. The bee flew a bit to the front of the barn and dropped down on the cement block. Once there she (the bee) seemed to be pruning herself and giving her wings a few revs. She was coming out of shock, I think. I was winding the rope---which I can do quite well, by the way, and watching her go through her system checks. She was there quite a while. I wondered if she was all right.
Then this bee flew up and around the yard in a full circle, and headed back to me. She seemed to be OK, all systems good. I stood watching her coming closer to me, closer and closer. I didn't move, and she stopped and hovered right in front of my face---just for a few seconds. She was hanging in mid-air just a few inches from my nose. We were eye ball to eye ball yet I couldn't see her eyes because my aging eyes are not that good lately. Then she turned and flew over the house and was gone.

I thought it odd. I went in to tell my wife.

After I explained the whole scene without too much embellishment, she said this:

WIFE: So, what are you thinking? Why are you telling me this? What did you think happened?

Bernie: Well, it looked to me... well, it seemed...well, what do you think?
W: You're thinking he, this bee, thanked you, aren't you?
B: It sure seemed like that.
W: He didn't thank you, Bernie. He an insect, not a human. He doesn't know "thank you".
B: Worker bees are females. It's a she. She thanked me.
W: He was...SHE was probably deciding whether to sting you or not. (laughs)
B: How do you know that she wasn't thanking me? We don't know these things, you know.
W: OK, maybe he...
B: she
W: she was thanking you, but you don't know for sure. So, I wouldn't tell people that he..she.. this bee actually said "thank You". OK? Just don't tell people that. OK?
B: Why?
W: I just don't want people to think my husband talks to bees. (laughs)
B: OK. But you know what? She's probably telling her hive sisters all about me right now.
W: Oh, good lord.

I had a couple of books about bees that you should read, but I think I already mentioned them in a former post. Remember, bees are our friends. They're also fun to watch, and if they get really close to you, tell them I said hello.

Next: Tiger book

Friday, September 10, 2010


Way back, I think it was 1969, there was a rumor circulatting about that Paul McCartney of the super fab group The Beatles was dead. As fervent fans of the Beatles, along with being young and stupid, my friends and I took this news seriously.
We decided to gather all the evidence provided by our close inspection of album covers (You have to realize that the Internet was not available), and extra-close, discriminate interpretation of all the Beatles songs and solve this thing once and for all. It was an arduous task to be sure.
We all gathered together (there were 5 of us) in a house available at the time, and settled down for a full evening---and late night/early morning, if necessary--- of intense concentration and deductive reasoning which would ultimately lead to a truthful conclusion on this most important matter. We then would share this hard-won item of interest to the world---for a price, of course. We fortified ourselves with bottles of booze of various strengths, and other eye-opening "stuff". We deemed these necessary---nay, essential--- accouterments for our sojourn through Beatlemania in our quest for truth.

It WAS an noble endeavour indeed.

We started with ABBEY ROAD. The infamous cover shot of Paul in bare feet and out of step with the other Beatles. We played the entire album many times, all the time imbibing whatever was near and taking scratchy notes. We brained-stormed afterwards, coming out with actually surprising insights into the "true" meaning of certain lyrics and sounds. It was all very clever. There were times when we were quite sure we had it! but it would later fall apart for overlooked, obvious facts. The more we drank and other things, the deeper we dug into this now widening chasm of innuendos and sly hidden clues. It became exhilarating yet very tiring.

By 2AM half of us were asleep, the other half diligently soldiering on. We had actually gotten nowhere. The most enthused of us(a hyper-active person) came to the dubious conclusion that Paul's father didn't exist! That one took a while to process. It occurred to us after some time that if Paul's father didn't exist, than Paul didn't exist. WOW! That one would take us on an even deeper, scarier path. But I had had it and threw in the towel, as they say, and eased my way home. I had had enough of this nonsense.

We were to meet again in round 2 in five days, but it so happened that Paul addressed this vicious rumor publicly saying in effect that he's fine, living and breathing in Scotland right now. I received a call from our hyper-active friend who laughed at the announcement saying that it was not Paul who gave it, and that everything about this public announcement was false. He went into all the things he saw and slyly perceived telling him that Paul is really dead despite the article. I began to wonder just how close this is to madness.

The Paul's Dead thing was all a hoax. We know that now.

I told this story(all true) to underline the fact that conspiracy theories are usually baseless, and in a sense, inane. They take on a life of their own, and become bigger than the actual subject itself. Our brain has the aptitude and ability to read between the lines and see hidden connections. It's one of our innate and wonderful abilities. But when the subject is bogus, these so-called connections are all wrong, misleading, and at times silly, other times dangerous.

There's a whole slew of Conspiracy Theories on the Net, and people, especially young people, are wasting not only their time but their youth chasing these ridiculous scenarios. Sometimes things are what they are.

The Shakespeare Conspiracy claims that Shakespeare did not write all those plays. The people who follow this will say that since Shakespeare was just an actor and director and farmer with a public school education, it was impossible for him to write all those exquisite poems, plays, and to have such insight into human nature. They insist that they were written by a nobleman who went to Oxford and was present in Queen Elizabeth 1 court.

James Shapiro( my favourite Shakespeare scholar) in his book CONTESTED WILL takes this on, and does so in grand fashion, I would say. I can't see how anyone who believes this nonsense would feel the same after reading this book. But people believe what they want to believe and discard the rest, I suppose. I don't really want to go into all the details of this conspiracy for risk of boring everyone, but it can be said that there is enough overwhelming evidence to support Shakespeare as the true author of these wonderful plays. It should end there.
As a teacher for most of my life, I can comment on the education aspect of this conspiracy. It's a known fact that it is never the really bright student who sits up front and answers all the questions that goes on the greatness. It's the gangly boy(or girl) down the back of the room, looking out the window, slightly bored, and a mind that's far away in the courts of Henry V.

Shakespeare DID write the plays, the rest is nonsense.

Next: Summer mystery 1. This is a good one. I'm just trying to connect a book to it in order to stay within the perimeters of this blog. I promise this entry will be very soon. Really, I promise.